Posted: 12.04.2024 16:29:00

Lukashenko, Putin met with Vasilevskaya, Novitsky in Kremlin: this is our unity

Belarus’ President Aleksandr Lukashenko and Russian leader Vladimir Putin are holding a joint meeting in the Kremlin with Marina Vasilevskaya, a participant in the 21st space expedition to the ISS, and pilot-cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, BelTA reports

It is symbolic that the meeting of the heads of state with the cosmonauts of Belarus and Russia is taking place on Cosmonautics Day. Just recently, Marina Vasilevskaya and Oleg Novitsky returned from orbit. This event is of particular significance for Belarus: for the first time in the history of a sovereign republic, its citizen has made a space flight. Marina Vasilevskaya had her own task at the ISS: to conduct a series of studies for Belarusian science.

Vladimir Putin congratulated the cosmonauts on the holiday and, through them, everyone who works in this industry.

Aleksandr Lukashenko, in turn, once again expressed gratitude to the Russian side for space co-operation and support.

“This is an ordinary thing for you, while this is a great event for us, because the first female cosmonaut flew into space: the first Belarusian cosmonaut of independent Belarus. Oleg is also ours: he was born near Minsk. His mother lives there, we’ve met recently. This is symbolic. So, I’m very grateful to you. It’s not just a tribute that we are here. If you had not given the green light to this idea, this flight would not have happened. Thank you for Marina and thank you that Oleg was the commander of this flight. This is our unity: he was born in Belarus, served in the Soviet Union (as a test pilot), before becoming a cosmonaut in Russia,” the President noted.

The Head of State noted that cosmonautics is not alien to Belarusians. He himself has long been immersed in the all the details, visiting various cosmodromes and industry institutions across different countries and studying the technical side of the issue.

“We’re working very seriously on Belarus-Russia joint programmes. We’re developing satellite programmes together. We have preserved satellite production facilities since Soviet times, and we’re liaising with Russians. Manned flights are the current focus of our attention. I persuaded Vladimir Vladimirovich that we would continue working together, and he supported me yesterday,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“You are responsible for optics,” Vladimir Putin replied.

“No problem. Our optics are no worse than those in the West. Therefore, it has been already decided that we will work together, including flying into space, we will work in the training centre [for cosmonauts] and in other facilities where our pilots are trained,” the Belarusian leader added.

“I congratulate you on your return to Earth,” Aleksandr Lukashenko addressed the cosmonauts. “It was hard, especially for me. When the rocket carrier failed to launch during the first attempt, I felt very emotional and worried. I thought something bad could happen. But everything turned out well, everything worked. You returned on time and carried out the necessary experiments. I think that we will see joint flights of Russians and Belarusians more than once.”

The plans here are truly grandiose, with Russia planning to launch the first module of its domestic orbital station into orbit in the coming years, thus opening up great prospects for bilateral co-operation.

Oleg Novitsky underlined that fraternal and Union State relations between the two states are worth a lot. According to him, the training of the Belarusian cosmonauts was successful, with both ladies approaching it very responsibly, as instructors say. “Marina managed to fully justify the hopes placed on her,” the cosmonaut said.

Oleg Novitsky also congratulated the two presidents on Cosmonautics Day, noting their contribution to the development of this area in Belarus and Russia. “It’s very pleasing that our equipment is truly the most reliable – as confirmed by the emergency launch of Aleksei Ovchinin, when the rocket malfunctioned. In our case, the automation cancelled the start of the engines before the launch: Marina’s pulse was 66, no one was worried, Tracy [crew member and NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson] was calm. Our equipment simply does not fail,” said Oleg Novitsky.

Marina Vasilevskaya admitted that she was happy to become the first cosmonaut in the history of sovereign Belarus. “I tried to do everything possible to fully complete the programme and even more. The conquest of space by a citizen of the Republic of Belarus is a very outstanding event for our country. Of course, I would like to continue in this industry. I’m happy, glad and proud that this project took place.”